Yesterday was International Left-Handers Day. It was also Jesse’s uncle’s birthday — Uncle Jesse turned 54! So it was kind of interesting watching Jesse Biddle hit 95 on the stadium gun in the first inning of the Reading Fightin Phils’ game against the Binghamton Mets (B-Mets to Mets fans). He threw 19 pitches in that first inning — 15 strikes and 4 balls — two of which were beautiful edge catching curveball strikes that apparently the ump didn’t like. The Reading faithful let the dude know about those mistakes properly.
Jesse took a two-out come-back liner off his left hip in the second. That seemed to temporarily take him out of his rhythm. He battled and was fully recovered by the 4th pretty much mowing down B-Met hitters with his swing-and-miss 91-93 mph fastball, mixing in curves, sliders, and change-ups to keep hitters off-balance. He also reached base once on a 2nd inning fielder’s choice bunt (he acknowledges he needed to get the ball down the first base line on that one) and then scored on Maikel Franco’s 3-2 count double down the third base line. There was a near ding-dong-say-bye-bye shot by #54 as well into straight-away center, sadly caught by Darrel Cecilliani on the warning path. That first pro homer will come with more at-bats — trust us!
Jesse left the game up 4-2 after six innings. 109 pitches, 73 for strikes. Three walks, five hits, and nine strikeouts. Not bad for a kid still recovering from a summer with Whooping Cough and a bad left foot (and probably a nasty bruise on the back of his hip). But, hey, it was International Left-Handers Day as well as #54’s namesake’s 54th birthday. What did you expect?
Unfortunately, the Mets are the best team in the EAL. Relievers Colby Shreve and Austin Wright just couldn’t contain the hot Binghamton bats, yielding four runs in the 7th (Phils down 6-4).
The Fightins weren’t done yet, though. Anthony Hewitt would score in the 8th on a bizarre sac fly bomb by Jim Murphy that ended in a double play (and a spectacular full sprint over-the-shoulder catch at the warning track by center fielder Alonzo Harris). Juan Sosa held the B-Mets in the 8th and 9th.
With one out in the bottom of the 9th, Matt Tolbert would single off ace Met’s closer Jeff Walters. Then Sebastian Valle would double, sending Tolbert to 3rd. The Mets intentionally walked pinch hitter John Suomi to load the bases. Anthony Hewitt came up and hit a shot at second baseman Daniel Muno who had trouble with the hard hit grounder. Hewitt beat out the throw and Tolbert scored to tie the game.
The Fightin faithful have been treated to a number of 9th inning ties that go beyond the 9th this season. We don’t have the stats on these games, but they extend late into extra-inning nights sometimes. Let’s just say there were probably a lot of fans beginning to make decisions about getting to bed late as Albert Cartwright came to the plate.
Walters has been one of the most dominant and consistent closers in the league all year. But last night did not provide him with another notch for his bedpost. He threw a wild pitch on his first offering to Cartwright allowing Valle to score easily and the Reading team got a much needed win, 7-6, in walk-off style. Juan Sosa got the win and Anthony Hewitt was named player of the game and honored with a presentation of the Ostrich Egg Trophy.
Jesse throws four more times this year if everything goes according to plan. He pitches in Akron on Sunday, August 18 at 2:00 and then is scheduled to go against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats at home on Friday, August 23. There’s room for change with that schedule, though. Jonathan Pettibone is doing a rehab assignment in Reading this Thursday night (tomorrow), and Roy Halladay is going to need to do a couple rehabs before the Phillies know whether he’s ready to resume work with the team. One of them could be in Reading (although we have absolutely no information on that…). But rehabs have a way of shifting schedules some, so stay tuned.
And see you out there…baseball is the greatest game ever played. Don’t forget that. It’s worth a trip to Reading to see for yourself.